Friday, January 28, 2011

DIY ski tuning bench and vises #1

After much searching I realized that there was not a suitable ski tuning bench and vice set up for my purposes. The problem being that I don't have a garage or carport to tune skis in, only a room in my basement that also doubles as a bedroom for guests on occasion. I don't like tuning skis outside on a deck in the cold and if you don't like it you won't do it, so why bother. As well I don't want to have to clean up after every time I wax and edge skis, so I wanted the bench to catch drippings, filings etc... With kids in race programs, as well as the adults skis, I end up waxing and tuning about 6 pairs of skis each weekend.

   So here are some of the things I was trying to achieve:
-a bench with foldable legs so I could get it out of the way for guests.
-one that catches all the debris associated with tuning
-one that didn't cost an arm and leg like some of the vise and table combos out there
-it needed to be adjustable for skis ranging from 120 cm to 190 cm
- it needed to be simple and quick to move/change from one pair to another
-and I wanted it to be able to hold a pair of skis not just one at a time.

There are lots of vises and benches out there that do some of  those things, but none that I could find that did them all, and even those that only did some were expensive, with vises costing hundreds of dollars and the same for tables.

After working for years in a ski shop that had pneumatic vises and all the machines I guess I was a little spoiled and lazy. Make that very lazy. This project needed to be cheap and easy to use.I started out searching online for the ultimate bench and quickly realized that I would have to take good ideas from existing ones and adapt them to my own situation. So that is what I did, incorporating all kinds of good ideas from many different sources to build what I thought would work for me.
ski support/ inner tube setup

1 sheet 3/4 inch plywood (actually closer to 1/2 sheet) which I had laying around
1 1/4 inch wood screws
Foldable table legs 
used bicycle inner tube
a packet of eye hooks
a couple of cord locks
a couple feet of shock cord
and a couple small carabiners (keychain size)

So I will try to keep it simple and I'm sure I will forget something, here goes:
-with the plywood I cut a 16 inch wide, by 8 foot long box base
-then I cut 4 pieces approx 4 inches wide by 8 feet long (box sides)
-using my 190cm skis as a guide I cut the box base to 82 inches (or so), just slightly longer than skis length
-with my box base cut I then cut the 4 inch pieces to form the sides of the box.
-attach the legs to the base
-cut a bunch (approx 10) pieces of 4 inch ply at six inches each, these will be used as braces for your tip and tail supports. use a mitre saw or table saw to try and keep your cuts straight if you can.
-cut two pieces of  3/4 inch ply the same width as the inside dimension of the table and approx 6 inches high (these will be your ski supports)
-start screwing the braces in to the side of the table using the ski support as a spacer. keep it tight because the wood will shrink and get worn in with use. put in 2 or 3 sets of braces then start from the opposite end of the table and do the same. this should leave a gap in the middle where your "vises" will be.
-on the ski supports cut a notch in the centre that will fit your skis when on edge (approx 3/8 inch wide by 1 1/2 inches deep)
-take bicycle inner tube and attach to top of ski support to protect skis from wood and to give grip. I attached it with staples, but you could use screws, small nails, whatever... the remainer of the inner tube can sometimes be used as brake retainers if wide enough
-the vises are simply a few eye hooks screwed into the table with the shock cord used to loop around the toe or heel or whatever of the binding then pulled tight using the cordlock
-to give the legs a stronger angle, as opposed to vertical, cut a small piece of 3/4 ply and put it under the legs angle support (the piece closer to the middle of the table)
shock cord thru cord lock, hooked onto carabiner and eyehook

I have been using this table for almost 2 seasons and it works great, even took it on the road for a ski race and used it in the condo we rented. No mess, just make sure your iron doesn't smoke and know one will know.
I did find that I had some issues with the ski supports being a touch loose but solved that with some shims that I bang in with the palm of my hand. Overall I am pretty happy with the results. If I am just waxing and doing a light edge touchup I don't even bother to use the "vises" because the bike innertube gives enough grip. One thing, when you attach the innertube to the ski support make sure you have the outside of the inner tube facing up, because the inside of bike tubes have a coating of baby powder or something like that and it will allow your skis to slip.

with a pair of 130's on edge

3/4 inch block under center leg support to give the legs a little angle.

The weakest link in this bench are the legs. They are not exactly sturdy, so I use a piece of cord to tie from one leg to the other to help pull it tight. Works fine for me, especially on a carpeted floor, on hard floor put something grippy under the table legs (innertube).

I have already come up with a few tweaks to make this better and will hopefully be building by feb of 2011.


1 comment:

Chris said...

Good Effort mate, cheap materials, I don't need it to collapse so did it on a fixed bench. Well done!